How I Ruined a Sitcom: Thoughts on the HIMYM Finale

HIMYMted

Unlike many of it’s fans, I haven’t been on the “How I Met Your Mother” bandwagon since it first debuted, so this hasn’t been a 9 year journey for me. I HAVE seen all the episodes, but I only started watching about 4 years ago, catching up on old seasons via marathon DVD viewings over the course of one summer. From there, my wife and I caught up with it via DVR viewing around season 6.

She bailed on the show sometime last year. I now wish I had followed suit, but I have a hard time just giving up on a show when the end date is known. I’d watched nearly 8 seasons and we KNEW season 9 would be the end, so why not fight through it and get to the finish line, right? After all, even if it gets worse (and boy, by the end of this show’s run had it ever gotten WORSE), we’ll at least get the satisfying finale moment of Ted and the mother finally meeting, right? I mean, that’s what we got with Friends!

Speaking of Friends, people like to compare HIMYM to it, and I see the resemblance: Young 20 somethings (into their 30’s by the time the show ends) live in New York together, fall in love (sometimes with each other), and have wild adventures. Each show has a male character who REALLY likes sleeping with as many women as possible: On Friends, Joey was Barney before Barney was Barney. Each show has a dark-haired, annoying male lead who we are supposed to root for, but man does he get on your nerves: Friends gave us Ross Gellar, paleontologist and college professor. HIMYM gave us Ted Mosby, architect and college professor. And each show has the lovable married couple: Marshall and Lily and Chandler and Monica.

So as I trudged forward on this last season (the ENTIRE SEASON took place over the course of the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding), I at least knew that despite the comedy all but gone and the show no longer having it’s cleverness, we were going to get that happy ending. Ted was going to meet the mother and fall hopelessly in love with her, Barney and Robin would be together, and Marshall and Lily would remain unchanged.

My thoughts on the last season as a whole and not just the last episode? It was mostly dull and they cornered themselves by announcing the entire season would take place over the course of 48 hours, and they spent WAY too much time on Ted FINALLY getting over Robin (a romance fans of the show had been over for YEARS). Still, they had some genuine touching moments. A bit heavy-handed, but when Robin “floated away” to show that Ted had finally let her go, it was a nice touch. Barney also became a man of honesty and was ready to settle down and change his life to be with Robin. Dull season, but it was setting us up for the end.

And then…..the finale happened.

If only things had ended here
If only things had ended here.

Do you remember where I said the entire last season of the show took place on the weekend of the big wedding? The penultimate episode of the series saw Barney and Robin finally married, and fans were happy. The characters were happy. Ted was happy! All was good.

Well guess what? Before our first commercial break in the finale, THEY WERE DIVORCED. What????

To state this again: THE WEDDING THAT THE ENTIRE FINAL SEASON WAS LEADING TO RESULTED IN A 3 YEAR MARRIAGE AND THEY GOT DIVORCED. But why? Oh, it’s probably because Barney just COULDN’T move past his dishonest, womanizing ways, right? Nope, Robin’s career got in the way because SHUT UP THAT’S WHY!!! Robin doesn’t have the TIME to be in a marriage with her career, she’s always traveling!

By the way, she DOES have the time to keep 5 dogs as pets though. Just not a husband.

A stupid twist, but OK. Let’s keep going. These are supporting characters anyway. At least the gang will ride off into the sunset together, right?

Nope! We find out over the next 10-15 minutes that Robin no longer spends time with them, because she can’t be around her ex-husband or Ted and his new love. Lily pleads with Robin, to no avail, leaving Lily weeping alone in a “whale” costume that actually looked like sperm with wings.

So we’re halfway through the episode and Barney and Robin are divorced, and Robin isn’t friends with anyone anymore, partially because Ted fell in love with the mother. IS YOUR HEART FULL OF JOY YET?

OK, so the budding romance ends in divorce, the gang is no longer a full unit, but SURELY Barney Stinson learned from all this and became a grown up and renounced his man-whoring days, right? We can at least end the series with some character closure and change.

Well, after attempting to have sex with 31 women in 31 days (he succeeded), he got a girl pregnant and then when he met his baby, he emotionally recited to her an exact pickup line he used earlier in the show. Then later at the bar instead of hitting on two girls, he told them to go home. PLEASE STOP READING NOW AS I AM SURE YOU NEED TO FIND A BUCKET TO HOLD ALL YOUR TEARS FROM THIS EMOTIONAL CHARACTER TURNAROUND.

Alright, but at least we have Marshall and Lily, the happy family! They went to Italy and were sure to come back, where Marshall would become a judge and we’d all say, “Yes! They got everything they wanted!” Right? Nope! For most of the episode, Marshall was back to his corporate law job that he hated the entire series. As a fan of Marshall, it was really cool to see he was absolutely miserable as a result of giving up on his dreams so his wife could achieve her dream of traveling to paint (even though SHE ALREADY DID THIS). But don’t worry, late in the episode, Marshall says, “Oh by the way, I’m a judge now!” and then they hug briefly as if they forgot about it until that point. Yay….???

Now we’re left with Ted. We already know the mom, she’s been on the show the whole last season. We’ve seen Ted and Tracy(mom’s name) together in flash forwards throughout, but still don’t know how they met. And then, after the entire episode is just about done, we see it. On a rainy platform, waiting for a train that will lead him to his new life in Chicago, Ted introduces himself to the mother, and they pretty quickly realize they’ve been “just missing” each other for quite some time….and they KNOW there is something there.

It was actually pretty sappy in a great way. They totally nailed this moment, which is not a surprise, because every Ted and Tracy moment we’ve seen this season has been great. It makes you wish she was introduced several seasons ago, but at least we got to share some good moments with Ted and his wife as the show fades to black….

Except that’s not where the show ended. We got another 5 minutes. 5 minutes that would undo the ENTIRE final season, some of the show’s most “important” moments and pretty much every little clue/callback to the mom in the entire show’s run. So what happened?

The mom died and the kids basically say, “DAD MOM HAS BEEN DEAD FOR A WHILE, YOU LOVE AUNT ROBIN GO MARRY HER!”

And the show comes to a “punch in the nuts with a spiked metal glove” ending as they recreate the end of the pilot episode. Robin looks out her window to see Ted standing there, holding a blue horn, and both are smiling.

Want my take on this less than 24 hours later?

I’ve seen the Lost finale. AND the Roseanne finale. AND Newhart. And I say this without hesitation:

WORST. FINALE. EVER.

Here’s the issue: THIS SHOW IS A SITCOM!!!! Supporters of the finale (and there are some who enjoyed it, just like there are people who enjoy being urinated on) are saying, “This was great because IT’S REAL LIFE!” But there’s a huge problem with that argument: It’s a fictional television show where the main characters regularly throw each other interventions, can speak telepathically to each other, have doppelgangers roaming the city and many other over the top, “only in television” type things going on.

Don’t have a show border on the absurd, then claim, “Wasn’t this brilliant because it was REALISTIC?”

Also, don’t paint it as a happy ending when the finale involves DIVORCE, MISERY AND DEATH. The mom is dead. DEAD! But hey, Ted still has that blue horn. I wonder if he brought it to the funeral of his wife, in case Robin showed up, so he could display his love to her then? Perhaps they could consummate their love ON the casket, with the kids watching!

Great TV shows are rewatchable. I could watch Seinfeld over and over again to this day. Same with Friends and many other classics. When The Office ended, I had a marathon viewing of the entire series from start to finish. In the case of How I Met Your Mother, the finale is SO bad that I don’t want to watch any episode of this show ever again.

I’m sure people all over the internet are already compiling their “Worst Finale” and “Best Finale” lists and figuring where they can rank HIMYM, but I wanted to go a different route with this. I wanted to voice my displeasure in a unique way, so here’s what I’ve come up with: 10 series finale scenarios that STILL wouldn’t be as bad as the actual finale that we got. Enjoy!

1. The mom dies and the kids urge Ted to go after Aunt Robin. He does! Robin opens the window, Ted holds up the blue horn and smiles. We cut to Robin who grins for a moment, then vomits all over Ted. Blinded, Ted stumbles into the road and is run over by Ranjit, the limo driver. He picks up the horn and smiles, and Robin smiles back.

Still has the divorce, misery and death….but at least we can go out on a positive note knowing that Ted suffered and died alone in the streets of New York.

Still not as bad as the actual finale.

2. Barney and Robin never get divorced, but Barney and the mom have an affair. Ted is telling the kids this story in the green room of the Maury Povich show.

I mean, if you’re going to undo all the character growth Barney had over the last few seasons, why not go the whole way and make him a total scumbag? As the tension mounts, Maury says, “Barney, in the case of Penny Mosby, the tests reveal that you are……….NOT THE FATHER!!”

Barney then flings cigars into the crowd, screaming, “Happy Not A Fathers Day!” only to be slapped offstage by Marshall. Then, for no reason, that goat runs out and hits Ted in the groin and the whole cast takes a bow.

STILL not as bad as the actual finale.

3. The mother is not real. The kids are not real. Ted is in an abandoned train car (his “train to Chicago”) and it turns out he has been rambling to the corpses of two fellow travelers he killed.

You may say, “Hey this doesn’t make sense!” but they just had an episode where TED WATCHED ROBIN FLOAT AWAY. Clearly he has undiagnosed mental problems. The gang is worried about him as he has been missing for days since the wedding, and Marshall finds him at the trainyards. Since he is a lawyer, he plants evidence to acquit Ted of the murders and gets Ted the help he needs. While visiting him in the psych ward, Ted keeps asking the gang if they want to see “the blue horn again” and we realize it’s actually just Ted exposing himself.

STILL not as bad as the actual finale!!!

4. Ted and the mother meet and fall in love. They are married and have kids. Then we see the wedding where the parents show up….and they’re Ted’s parents. As it turns out, they are brother and sister separated at birth….but they get married anyway.

Hey, why not? This show LOVES patting itself on the back with callbacks, right? Ted always wanted to name his first kids Luke and Leia. So why not shack up with his sister unknowingly? Then in one last joke, the kids leave the couch, only they have grotesque tails and dorsal fins.

STILL NOT AS BAD AS THE ACTUAL FINALE!!!

 5. Lily and Marshall have a sub-plot where Marshall got really into the slap bet and Marshall is now an abusive husband too and Lily lives in constant fear. Also the mom dies and Barney and Robin get divorced.

Because hey, THIS IS REALISTIC, right? So why not give EVERY character a crippling dose of depressing reality?

Say it with me now, STILL NOT AS BAD AS THE ACTUAL FINALE!!!

6. Barney and Robin get divorced. Barney remarries stripper Lily, and Robin comes out and is in a committed relationship with Lesbian Robin. Ted and the mom can’t have children so they go to Fertility Doctor Barney, and he lets them know Ted is sterile. The sperm donor is Mexican Wrestler Ted. Marshall and Mustache Marshall become best friends. Then the kids meet their Doppelgangers too, only they make eye contact and the entire universe explodes.

CALLBACKS MEAN WE ARE SMART!

AND THIS IS STILL NOT AS BAD AS THE ACTUAL FINALE!!!

 7. The show goes exactly as it was written, only instead of the ending with Robin, the kids ask, “Dad, why does your voice sound different?” Ted looks out a window, sees a full moon and we get a 4 minute, big budget transformation. Ted is a werewolf who sounds just like Bob Saget. It is revealed he ATE his wife.

He then says, “This is my curse, this is my cross to bear kids. I met your mother, and I ate her. I also ate your aunt Robin. Run, my children! Run away so that I do not again consume the flesh of one that I love!”

As a single tear rolls down Wolfman Ted’s cheek, Dave Coulier enters and says, “Cut it out!”

Ted eats him as the show ends.

This is pretty bad, but you know my feelings by now.

 8. We eliminate the middle 40 minutes of the show and only get the Barney-Robin divorce and the mother death. Ted goes to Robin with the blue horn and she smiles 20 minutes into the episode. They break up again and Robin and Barney are back together. Then they break up and Robin and Ted get back together. This repeats 4-5 times, each time with them wearing more ridiculous wigs and makeup.

I mean, if you’re not going to have any true character development over nine SEASONS of a show, why not end it with that, that these people are trapped in an infinite loop of mediocrity, destined to ping pong back and forth into each others lives until the cold hands of death release them from this vicious cycle.

And if that seems grim to you, it is STILL better than the actual finale.

 9. Shortly after the wedding, Robin gets a call from a music industry executive and revives her career as Robin Sparkles. The mother joins her on stage and they go on a worldwide tour, while Ted and Barney stay behind to raise kids and be pals. Then they both go on the TV show “Celebrity Wifeswap” and ACTUALLY SWAP WIVES. 

I know, I know, this is missing two KEY ingredients in true comedy: DEATH and DIVORCE.

Still….better than the actual finale.

10. Ted tells the kids how he met the mother and we cut to the kids. They have a look of horror and shock.

“What are you trying to tell us Uncle Ted???” 

“You’re adopted, kids. I’m your actual father.”

Lily storms into the room and attacks Ted for revealing the Erickson family secret: After somehow losing their first two babies in a poker game in Italy, Marshall and Lily wanted more kids, but couldn’t conceive, so Ted’s wife agreed to be a surrogate mother. Barney and Robin try to pry Lily off of Ted while Marshall consoles the children.

Then for some reason, Ranjit marries that pineapple. Callback!!!

Still better than the actual finale?

After gutting out the final season, I totally regret staying with this show after the worst finale I’ve ever seen. Good riddance, “How I Met Your Mother”.

Do you have a Ted in your life? An awful person that you wish would go away? Buy them a gift: The entire series of “How I Met Your Mother” on DVD! After watching it all, I guarantee they will no longer want to be in your life. Why not buy it through amazon.com, by clicking the link, RIGHT HERE AT PlaceToBeNation.com, a site that WON’T ruin your night with terrible endings!

Author: Jordan Duncan

Jordan Duncan is self-employed and a proud father of three children. He is a diehard Detroit Tigers fan. His mom thinks he's cool. Send Jordan an email